Dallas — Now in its fifth year, Dallas Comedy Festival booked its first national standup headliner with Rory Scovel of TBS’ Ground Floor. He opens the event that runs from March 18 to 22 at the Dallas Comedy House, 2645 Commerce St. in Deep Ellum. Scovel might show up as a character or alter ego or simply southern fried. But it’s always memorable and a little mind-bending. Look for an interview with Scovel coming up.
Local and regional comics are featured on Wed. March 19. Aaron Ayranpur tops off the early set with Clifton Hall, Christian Hughes, Jason Salmon, Jeffrey Jay, and eight-year-old Saffy Herndon. The punchier late set, topped by Paul Varghese, features Rob Christensen, Chris Darden, Tom Devenport, Andrew Hamer, Grant Redmond, and Nick Sahoyah, a hero to the GLBT performer scene in Seattle. Thursday’s early standup set, topped by Dave Little, includes two of Austin’s most popular comics, Mac Blake and Chris Tellez, who are not to be missed.
Then it’s on to improv. Most groups featured came though the Dallas Comedy House improv classes and perform regularly at the club. Notable is Pavlov's Dogs, possibly at this point Dallas’ longest running improv group.
Improv headliners this year are Susan Messing of Chicago and Kate Duffy of Los Angeles who perform the final show of the festival. Messing was a performer on The Second City mainstage, but made her mark at that city’s iO Theatre where she created and teaches their advanced improv program that is also used at Los Angeles’ iO West. In addition, she’s a founding member and regular performer at The Annoyance Theater in Chicago. Kate Duffy made her name at Chicago’s top improv comedy spots and remains active there. She now bases in California and works the film and video trade as actress, director and writer, notably with her webseries In Bed Together.
A few more touring standouts:
- Yet another super creative group out of Oklahoma City called Zoom! who perform in silence. They’re big on slapstick, clowning, vaudeville and other physical shenanigans, with a dash of silent films and Looney Toons. (Thursday 10:30 pm)
- Also from Oklahoma City, half of Twinprov and much of the gang from Villain: The Musical live on as Night Rhymers who provide improvised musical merriment. (Saturday 5:30 pm)
- Watch improv masters at work with Patrick Knisley and Mark Carpenter of the New Movement Theater in Austin. (Thursday 9 pm)
- STAG Comedy is a sketch comedy group from Austin that includes musicians and media makers. Sketches birthed in drinking sessions are refined with improv, scripted, and the best enshrined in video. (Friday 7 pm)
- Art meets improv in The Jeff Show from Springfield, Missouri. Jeff Jenkins and Jeff Houghton roll through scenes and characters while a third member creates art live on stage. (Friday 9 pm)
The Dallas Comedy Festival also includes workshops. Improv headliners Susan Messing and Kate Duffy will be leading four workshops during the day Friday and Saturday. Dallas native Timmy Mayse, who made his name in the Chicago improv scene, teaches Finding Comedy Gold, which focuses on crafting an emotional state in the first few lines of dialogue. Andi Woody, who was a member of Second City’s Musical House Ensemble, and performs with Chicago's longest running sketch show Cupid Has a Heart On, teaches musical improv.
Tickets to DCF run $10 to $20 per 90-minute show, or festival passes may still be available. Tickets and info are at www.DallasComedyFestival.com. Look for interviews and reviews coming on TheaterJones this week.